Phish kicks off its Hollywood Bowl shows with an impressive 3-hour concert – Press Enterprise

Phish was in fine form as it kicked off its three-night stand at the Hollywood Bowl, delighting the die-hard fans who packed the legendary venue on a warm Friday evening with approximately three hours of diversely appealing material

By the time the audience members were walking toward the exits – with a fabulous encore of “Drift While You’re Sleeping” still ringing in their ears – one thing seemed perfectly clear:

Phish is still the world’s greatest jam band.

And the Vermont troupe – consisting of lead vocalist and guitarist Trey Anastasio, bassist Mike Gordon, drummer Jon Fishman and keyboardist Page McConnell – never, for a moment, feels like it’s just going through the motions.

That’s impressive, especially given how long they’ve been at this and, really, how little they still need to prove.

The group, which got its start in 1983, is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. To help put that in perspective, consider that Phish has already been around 10 years longer than the legendary act it’s most often compared to – the Grateful Dead (1965-1995).

And given the energetic and engaging performance that fans witnessed at the Bowl on Friday night, there’s no reason to think that Phish couldn’t keep performing at a sky-high level for years, if not decades, to come.

The group opened its roughly 70-minute first set with the groove-fest known as “The Moma Dance,” which was a significant selection since it marked the first number that the group had played twice during its entire West Coast spring tour.

Think about that.

This was the sixth show of the run, which – at roughly 3 hours a pop – translates to the group playing some 15 hours of music without repeating a single number.


Phish confidently transitioned from the funk of “The Moma Dance” to the comparatively straight-ahead pop-rock of “Sigma Oasis,” which is the title track to Phish’s most recent studio album. The musicians hit that 2020 offering pretty hard, especially by Phish standards, with four of the evening’s 15 selections hailing from it.

There were plenty of fun twists and turns in the first set, ranging from the intentionally silly and (lyrically) simple “Party Time” – which sounds like it could be a college fraternity drinking song – to the uptempo bass-driven blues cover of a funky Son Seals’ tune.

Things only got better in the second set – which is pretty much the norm for Phish – as Anastasio once again showcased why he’s one of the best rock guitarists on the planet with his juicy, compelling leads on “Sample in a Jar.”

The group stuck around the same studio album, 1994’s excellent “Hoist,” for one more song – the Gordon bass showcase “Down with Disease” – before moving onto the night’s final “Sigma Oasis” cut, “Mercury.”

By this point, the crowd was itching for a meaty jam. And they’d definitely get it with the fiery “Blaze On” from “Big Boat” and the traditional fan favorite “You Enjoy Myself,” each of which ran more than 17 minutes.

The quartet closed the second set with a powerful yet concise version of another first-tier Phish concert staple – “Cavern” – before bringing the whole fandango to a close with more of Anastasio’s spellbinding guitar work on “Drift While You’re Sleeping.”

Then fans spilled out on venue North Highland Avenue, moving past the Danger Dog vendors and the T-shirt sellers, with their thoughts already beginning to focus on what Phish would have in store for them during the rest of the Hollywood Bowl run.


Set 1

1, “The Moma Dance”

2, “Sigma Oasis”

3, “Party Time”

4, “Strawberry Letter 23”

5, “Everything’s Right”

6, “Shade”

7, “Funky Bitch”

8, “A Wave of Hope”

Set 2

9, “Sample in a Jar”

10, “Down with Disease”

11, “Mercury”

12, “Blaze On”

13, “You Enjoy Myself”

14, “Cavern”


15, “Drift While You’re Sleeping”

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